It is often said that regularly scheduled grooming helps keep your pets looking and feeling their best. Beyond the great feeling pets get when they have been loved on and spoiled, grooming does so much more to help keep them feeling their best. Did you know that your groomer can be a great part of your pet's preventive health care regime? In many ways, we become partners with you and your vet in the care of your furbabies. Many of the things groomers do as part of a routine grooming session head off or help identify problems that can become very serious and costly to fix if not found and treated by your veterinarian early on. Here are just 6 ways that the things we do as part of a normal, routine grooming help you keep your pet healthy:
Joint Pain Prevention: Regular nail trimming helps your dog or cat to walk properly. It also prevents pain in the feet and toes caused by nails that are too long. Excessive nail growth or improper nail trimming can cause the toes to sit hyperextended; creating joint pain and misalignment of the bones in the feet and joints. This works its way up into the shoulder joints and possibly even the alignment of the spine. This is very painful and over time, this could lead to arthritic conditions. Keeping the nails to the proper length, where the foot sits naturally, prevents this. It also prevents a long nail from being caught on a rug or in-between decking and ripped out. Beyond that, there are conditions that groomers can help you identify that indicate other, more serious problems. For example, splitting nails can be the result of a nutritional deficiency or something much more serious.
Healthier Ears: Ears are always cleaned as part of a regular grooming routine. Some breeds grow hair in their ears that must be plucked out regularly as well. During the course of our work, it is not uncommon for us to spot something that looks amiss and refer our clients to their vet. Additionally, if a dog has been seen by their vet and prescribed a treatment medication that must be put into their ears, having the hair plucked out will allow the medication to get down to where it needs to go to do its job. This is important because ear infections can become a chronic condition. They could lead to cauliflower ear. The author has even seen dogs that have had to have their ear canals surgically removed and closed due to severe ear infections.
Prevents or Identifies Bad Skin Conditions: Proper grooming eliminates knotting and excessive coat, which keeps the skin healthy. If a cat has hairballs, if they are not removed, a cat will rip the fur off of their body for relief- often ingesting hair and causing digestive issues. Knotting and matting holds in moisture, trapping it near the skin where the warmth of the body can help things fester. This can lead to all sorts of skin conditions. In extreme cases, this can even lead to skin rot! Catching a skin condition early and getting to the vet for treatment as soon as possible increases the odds of it being a simple, relatively inexpensive fix, verses an expensive, lengthy, uncomfortable process for your pet.
New and Suspicious Growths Detected Early: The massaging of your pet in the tub helps us to feel growths, warts, lumps and bumps. Blow drying helps us to see them, as well. We find lumps and bumps you might miss or overlook. Finding new lumps and bumps early allows you to get to the vet and have them checked as soon as possible. If it is determined to be something serious and treatment is required, it is much better to find these sorts of things early. Treatment is much less costly and the outcome is much better when things are caught early on. I have countless stories of pets that were sent to the vet after a lump was discovered only to be told it was lucky that it was caught early on because it was an aggressive form of cancer.
Anal Gland Issues Prevention: Small and medium sized pets should have their anal glands expressed on a regular basis. These glands produce a lubricant to help them go to the bathroom. Sometimes, especially with the smaller breeds, it is not expressed during their normal bathroom behavior and the glands can become impacted and/or infected. This can lead to needing antibiotics or sometimes needing your vet to lance it. To help prevent this, as a routine part of a grooming, groomers do an external gland expression- (unlike a vet who does an internal expression). Occasionally we see something that seems a bit off and will refer you to your vet for them to check it out. This is another area that pet owners don’t generally think about. And with regular grooming appointments, you don’t have to.
Subtle Changes Noted: As a groomer gets to know what’s normal for YOUR pet, we are often able to spot subtle changes that might be overlooked at home. This can be anything from a sudden, excessive loss of coat (believe me, we know how dense your baby’s coat is) or balding patches, to changes in their behavior. Usually, together, we can figure out what is causing the changes. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a recent change in their diet, or a move. But sometimes things are serious enough to warrant a visit to your vet.
Over the years, these are some of the things that the author has had personal knowledge or experience with in the past. As a result of a vet referral because of something we discovered during a grooming, some of the diagnosis have included thyroid diseases, diabetes, seizure disorders, heart conditions, collapsed tracheas, knee problems, severe anemia, hot spots, bacterial infections, staph infections, tapeworm, food allergies, and even cancer.
Some more common things we have seen: sore hips (from jumping off the couch in an effort to finally get the squirrel), abscess between paw pads (from debris that was lodged there), cats with severe anemia due to fleas (this can literally be a life or death situation and requires IMMEDIATE vet attention!), trick knee (luxating patella) getting stuck because a dog got super excited.
Some of the odd things we have seen over the years: a long thin needle that was lodged in the roof of a dog’s mouth and out the jaw (that had disappeared during the beading of a baby’s Christening gown), a sewing needle that had been swallowed and the only indication was the end of the thread in the cat’s mouth, gaping, abscessed wounds in a few dogs' necks (the result of improperly fitted electric fence collars), a sliced paw pad (the result of a morning jog on the beach), nail beds receding and nails falling out (the result of a rare genetic condition), a dog with a bulging eye (the result of a rare tumor in his brain), and one dog that was just a bit off from his normal behavior during the grooming-he wasn’t as into it as he normally was (the result of his vet visit showed that he was riddled with cancer).
A professional grooming is so much more then simply giving a dog or a cat a bath and trim. Groomers don’t just love on your fur babies, they become personally involved in helping them truly look and feel their best. We become partners in your pets’ health and well being-at absolutely no extra charge. (And we are happy to be able to help!) However, extra licks and purrs are gladly accepted and appreciated.
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